BRIDGETON, N.J. — An officer of the Bridgeton Police Department in New Jersey died Sunday at home hours after he jumped into the Cohansey River in an attempt to rescue a suspect who went into the water during a chase, authorities said.
Sean Peek, 49, of Millville, was a 15-year veteran of the department, according to Chief Michael Gaimari. An official cause of death is pending the autopsy, he said.
Peek, who was assigned to the patrol bureau and working the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift over the weekend, was dispatched to the Bridgeton Fire Department’s EMT satellite station on Mayor Aitken Drive around 1:30 a.m. Sunday for a report of someone striking an ambulance with an unknown object as it was leaving the facility, nj.com reported.
Peek spotted a woman running near the Washington Street bridge over the Cohansey River and saw her either fall or jump into the water, Gaimari said.
“Sean made a decision as would any officer and entered the water in attempt to pull the person from the running waters no matter what the circumstances,” the chief said in a statement.
The woman made it across the river. However, Peek found it difficult returning to shore since he was still wearing all of his gear, the chief said.
As a result, additional responding officers assisted Peek. Consequently, he was treated at the scene and then transported Inspira Health Center in Bridgeton for evaluation.
The fleeing woman was eventually apprehended by other officers. She was identified as Sarah Jeanne Davis, 29, of Canton, Connecticut. She was also evaluated at the medical center, then charged with burglarizing several city owned structures along Mayor Aitken Drive, including the fire department building.
She was jailed pending completion of the investigation.
Peek was released from the hospital and sent home until he could be cleared to return to work, Gaimari said. However, family members found him unresponsive at home later Sunday morning, according to nj.com.
Peek’s death has shaken his colleagues. He leaves behind a wife and child.
“We are naturally devastated here at the department,” Gaimari said. “Sean was a fine officer and a friend to all and always acted in an exemplary fashion when representing the department and the City of Bridgeton. He will be sorely missed and our hearts collectively go out to Megan and their 8-year-old daughter, Kate.”